Labour leadership race: Who is Mary Creagh?

From blaming Thomas the Tank Engine for the lack of female train drivers to hitting out at fellow Labour MPs, she is not one to shy away from a fight

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Indy Politics

Mary Creagh became a surprise fifth entry in the race to replace Ed Miliband, joining Liz Kendall, Chuka Umunna, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper in the leadership contest.

She was elected as MP for Wakefield in 2005 and five years later she was appointed shadow environment minister in Mr Miliband’s first frontbench team, where she has remained ever since, serving as shadow transport secretary and latterly as the party’s international development spokesman.

She courted controversy when she blamed the Thomas the Tank Engine Series for the lack of female train drivers and also caused a stir in her party when she accused her fellow Labour MPs of shunning her because she spoke with a middle-class, southern accent.

She claimed she was a victim of inverse snobbery because she did not speak with a “broad regional accent,” which had attracted “throwaway comments” and “assumptions” about her background. She was keen to stress her upbringing as the daughter of a car factory worker and a primary school teacher. 

Ms Creagh was born and brought up in Coventry, before going on to study modern languages at Oxford University. It was here that she claimed she “lost my Coventry accent”. She went on to complete a PhD in European Studies at the London School of Economics.

She has made headlines after attacking the Coalition Government over its decision to sell off publicly owned forests, the badger cull and also spoke out against supermarkets over the horsemeat scandal.

She is married with two children – her son Clement is named after the former Prime Minister Clement Atlee.

Before being elected as MP for Wakefield in 2005 she worked for the London Enterprise Agency and served as a Labour councillor in Islington. She sat as Labour’s leader in the north London borough for the five years before she entered Parliament.

She faces a tough fight to win the backing of her party to become leader, with odds as high as 100-1 on her replacing Mr Miliband before she declared she was running.